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COLUMN: A proving ground, not a battlefield

Rev. Dr. James Swanson
Posted 3/19/22

When we lived in Maryland I would periodically hear the name of a place called the Aberdeen Proving Ground. One day as I was driving along near Aberdeen I heard an explosion, I turned to the person …

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COLUMN: A proving ground, not a battlefield

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When we lived in Maryland I would periodically hear the name of a place called the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

One day as I was driving along near Aberdeen I heard an explosion, I turned to the person next to me and said “did you hear that?” The person just said, “Oh, that’s just the proving ground, they are testing weaponry there.”

That is why Aberdeen Proving Ground exists, it is the place where the military services test fire all kinds of explosives and where they test run military machinery. It is a place to find out what works and what does not work.

A family is also a proving ground. We test out our actions, our words, our ideas, our clothing styles, our hair styles on our family. Some things pass with flying colors and other attitudes and actions are sent back for further refinement.

The Family Proving Ground tests all kinds of relationships — marriage, parent-child, siblings, step-families, grandparents and more.

When we have been hurt by some of these test shots we need to be willing to forgive each other for the sake of our family, so we do not have to drag around the hurt with us.

The Apostle Paul challenged the church at Colosse to act like a healthy family “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” Colossians 3:13.

Marriage is a proving ground. When we got married I had no idea what it meant to be a husband. I tried various approaches to make our marriage fit my idea of happiness. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it was a big dud.

Since I was willing to learn and my wife was willing to learn, our marriage has just gotten better with time. Sure there have been lots of misfirings and explosions, but in the end we have learned from each other more than anyone else in the world.

Parenthood is another proving ground. Most parents develop an incredible array of short-range and long-range missiles that they fire consistently.

The missiles are not meant to harm those in the family, they are aimed at threats to those in the family — laziness, bad influences, bad attitudes, inappropriate clothing and more. Sometimes the practice rounds are misunderstood, they appear to be aimed at our hearts, when they are actually aimed at actions or issues that are just really close to us.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. And remember this, a parent is testing out this whole parenthood thing, kids are testing out the whole kid thing, and sometimes sparks fly.

I’d like for us to think of family (and church family) as a proving ground, not a battlefield.

A battlefield is a place of victory and defeat, life and death, and scheming and hurting at the expense of others. As proving grounds families might have issues, but when it is all said and done families should not be attacking each other, they should be supporting each other as we figure out how to be healthy and whole.

The Apostle Paul’s admonition to the church family at Thessalonica rings true for other families as well. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

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